Even in my retirement, I wanted to be there at half-time to honor the 1966 Manual football team. Other than Buzz Frank, who sits with me at the games, the player from the 1966 team I remember most is Wilbur Hackett. He was hurt in the State Championship Game and was only able to get in the Male game for a few plays and Male won 20-7. Manual fans of that era believe that if Wilbur had been healthy Manual would have beaten Male. However, as far as my retirement is concerned, the Male victory in 1966 was only one of the hundreds of indignities I have suffered as a fan of Manual sports. It may seem like I've focused on football, but that‚s not the only reason I've retired. Remember the Ballard soccer game in 1999? Remember the clipping penalty in 1953 in the Thanksgiving Day game. How about Cuba and North Marshall in basketball?
A few years ago Wilbur was refereeing a Manual game. One of the aficionados I usually sit with pointed him out to me. Buzz Frank said, that‚s not Wilbur Hackett and walked down to the fence to check him out. He returned and said, "That guy doesn't look like the Wilbur Hackett I remember." After further discussion we realized that Buzz had never seen Wilbur while he (Buzz) was standing upright. At all other times before that night, Buzz only saw Wilbur when Wilbur was stepping on him. That kind of trauma can change your perspective.
And so it was Thursday night. When we were in the stands, I asked Buzz if Wilbur was there. He answered, I don't see him anywhere. While Buss was down on the field receiving his plaque with the other team members I heard Wilbur's name announced so I knew he was present. I ran down to the field and said, "Buzz that's Wilbur Hackett!"
Buzz said, "I don't remember him looking anything like that." To solve the conundrum I approached the man who had been previously identified as Wilbur Hackett. First, I must say I remember him as being 6'4'‚ tall and weighing about 215 pounds. He was a great running back and perhaps a better line backer. I was amazed to see that I was actually bigger than he was. Perhaps Buzz was right, that might not be Wilbur Hackett. After I got over the shock of the size differential. I asked the man who had been identified as Wilbur if he was the real Mc Coy. It only took a few seconds for me to realize the man was legit. I started by asking if he recognized Buzz. He studied him for a few seconds and asked, "Is that the guy we were always stepping on in practice?"
"Yes, yes, that's him!"
Wilbur further explained, "No wonder he doesn't recognize me when I'm standing up. The offensive coach instructed them to run over Buzz‚s position. It was a sure ten yard gain. Or when we were on defense, the coach told us to run through Buzz. In fact he was known on both sides of the ball as Cannon Fodder Frank.‚" The trip down memory lane refreshed Wilbur's memory.
To prove to Buzz that the man was really Wilbur, he suggested that I have Buzz lie down on the field, he would step on him, and thereby clear up the confusion once and for all. What a great idea! I proposed it to Buzz, he agreed and raced to the 10 yard line and threw himself flat on his back while I turned and ran to get Wilbur. While I was looking the other way, a tuba player stepped on Buzz and before I could get back with Wilbur, Buzz was talking to a very confused tuba player about plays in the championship game of 1966. I protested, "That's not Wilbur Hackett, that‚s a tuba player!" But Buzz refused to listen and the last time I saw him he was pulling the tuba player, instrument and all, out of formation and walking toward the front gate saying, "Surely you remember x, y, and z from the 1966 game?"
I fear that Wilbur has been lost forever. Now that Buzz has misidentified him he will never, repeat, never have any chance of recognizing the real Wilbur Hackett. Maybe drugs will help Back To Menu